Six police officers in Hamburg, Germany, raided the house of a man who insulted a politician on Twitter using a phrase that refers to the male genitalia. The raid was heavily blasted on social media as classic overreach by German authorities.
A little over three months ago, a Twitter user who goes by the screen name “ZooStPauli,” described Hamburg’s interior and sports minister Andy Grote as “pimmel,” (a “dick”) in a reply to a post by the minister. On early Wednesday morning, six officers raided his house to search for evidence.
“My house was searched at 6:00 this morning. Six officers in the apartment,” ZooStPauli tweeted on Wednesday. “They know there are two young children living in this household. Good morning Germany.”
The guests for NPR’s just-released On The Media episode about the dangers of free speech included Andrew Marantz, author of an article called, “Free Speech is Killing Us”; P.E. Moskowitz, author of “The Case Against Free Speech”; Susan Benesch, director of the “Dangerous Speech Project”; and Berkeley professor John Powell, whose contribution was to rip John Stuart Mill’s defense of free speech in On Liberty as “wrong.”
That’s about right for NPR, which for years now has regularly congratulated itself for being a beacon of diversity while expunging every conceivable alternative point of view.
I always liked Brooke Gladstone, but this episode of On The Media was shockingly dishonest. The show was a compendium of every neo-authoritarian argument for speech control one finds on Twitter, beginning with the blanket labeling of censorship critics as “speech absolutists” (most are not) and continuing with shameless revisions of the history of episodes like the ACLU’s mid-seventies defense of Nazi marchers at Skokie, Illinois.
The essence of arguments made by all of NPR’s guests is that the modern conception of speech rights is based upon John Stuart Mill’s outdated conception of harm, which they summarized as saying, “My freedom to swing my fist ends at the tip of your nose.”
Because, they say, we now know that people can be harmed by something other than physical violence, Mill (whose thoughts NPR overlaid with harpsichord music, so we could be reminded how antiquated they are) was wrong, and we have to recalibrate our understanding of speech rights accordingly.
If the Trudeau Liberals are re-elected in the upcoming election, major online platforms will be subject to regulation by a new government commission.
During a technical briefing on Thursday morning, government officials proposed the creation of a digital safety commission that will have the power to regulate “harmful online content.”
The government’s proposal will create a new legal category that specifically targets Online Communication Service Providers (OCSPs) like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. These OCSPs will be under the authority of the digital safety commission.
The government also lists the pornographic website Pornhub as an OCSP they plan to target.
The five categories of “harmful online content” covered under the proposed new powers will draw on offences defined under the Criminal Code: hate speech, child sexual exploitation content, non-consensual sharing of intimate images, incitement to violence, and terrorist content.
Recommendations unveiled by the UK’s Law Commission are seeking to establish a new offense by criminalizing communications that could cause “likely psychological harms.”
Another offense that is recommended in the document concerns “knowingly false communications.” This is a serious threat to freedom of expression, and a chance for the authorities to get the last word on what is perceived as true and false.
The recommendation defines “harm” as something that causes “serious distress,” while “psychological harm” is also being mentioned. As for defining “serious distress” – the Commission refers to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
The proposed reforms are aimed at protecting victims of online abuse, but there are fears that the vague language and prioritizing subjective perception of speech over objective content could have dangerous consequences.
And the fact that identity and characteristics of the recipient of a communication is also given center stage leaves the door wide open for censorship based on identity politics.
Offensive remarks on social media are legal, but Canada’s Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault says they “undermine democracy.”
The government is promoting the internet censorship bill C-36, which seeks to obligate social media platforms to mass censor.
In a briefing, reviewed by Blacklock’s Reporter, the Heritage Ministry argued for censorship of offensive Twitter messages because he says they prevent “a truly democratic debate.”
“This content steals and damages lives,” the briefing read. “It intimidates and obscures valuable voices, preventing a truly democratic debate.”
In late June, the cabinet introduced Bill C-36, which threatens social media users with house arrests and fines of up to $50,000 for sharing content that promotes “detestation or vilification.”
“Our objective is to ensure more accountability and transparency from online platforms while respecting the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms,” said the June 16 briefing note.
Free speech is not a human right, according to prominent Facebook censorship board member Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
“What we’re trying to find, of course, I think many of us engaging in this conversation, is that middle road. How do you moderate content and how do you find that balance between human rights and free speech, which is a human right, but also other human rights because free speech is not an absolute human right,” the Facebook Oversight Board co-chair said during a live stream of Politico’s Tech 28 spotlight.
“It has to be balanced with all the human rights and that is what the oversight is there to do,” she added.
An adviser to the Pentagon’s Counter-Extremism Working Group (CEWG) is warning the Biden administration’s efforts to purge the military of “extremists” could violate individual First Amendment rights.
Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty Institute and Marine Corps reservist, first sounded the alarm in a recent op-ed that said the CEWG is looking to formulate a new definition of extremism that could include constitutionally protected speech. He wrote in the Washington Examiner on June 19:
Instead of monitoring external threats, the Pentagon is on a mission to identify and remove whomever it labels as extremists from America’s armed forces. Ironically, the CEWG has yet to define what it means by ‘extremism.’ Extremism is usually defined as the threat or use of violence to achieve an ideological agenda. But the Pentagon is now poised to expand upon that definition to include constitutionally protected speech. In other words, sticks and stones may break our bones, but words are the biggest threat.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin set up the Counter-Extremism Working Group (CEWG) in April after vowing to root out extremists and ordering the entire military force to spend a day discussing “extremism.” Since there is no Pentagon definition for “extremism,” Austin tasked the CEWG, led by Bishop Garrison, to come up with a definition and to define activities that would be considered “extremist.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government proposed legislation on Wednesday, Bill C-36, that is aimed at combating “hate speech” and “hate propaganda.”
Bill C-36 will “better protect Canadians from hate speech and online harms,” according to a news release from the federal government. The statement includes 33 mentions of the word “hate.”
The bill’s summary includes a proposed legal definition of “hatred” to be included in Canada’s Criminal Code. It defines “hatred” as “the emotion that involves detestation or vilification and that is stronger than dislike or disdain … For greater certainty, the communication of a statement does not incite or promote hatred, for the purposes of this section, solely because it discredits, humiliates, hurts or offends.”
The bill’s text does not specify if or how non-verbal messages such as images or videos would be regulated to control “hate.”
Under a section titled “Fear of hate propaganda offence of hate crime,” Bill C-36 would allow provincial court judges to impose restrictions on those accused by an “informant” of a likely future commission of an offence “on reasonable grounds.” In other words, a judge would be able to issue restrictions against accused parties if the judge believes the accused is likely to commit an offense related to “hate.”
According to newly released video footage, University of Oklahoma instructors want to punish students who defy campus orthodoxy. Their plan is to “avoid ‘a rhetoric of dysfunctional silence’ that closes ears to marginalized voices,” by — you guessed it — silencing marginalized voices.
On Tuesday, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit focused on protecting campus free speech, publicized video footage of an April 14 workshop on “Anti-Racist Rhetoric & Pedagogies” at the University of Oklahoma (OU). The workshop’s leaders presented slides about “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” and “subverting white institutional defensiveness.” In an attempt to teach so-called antiracism, the workshop’s leaders also promoted censorship and indoctrination.
The event was “one of nine professional development workshops for instructors and grad students” at OU. During the workshop, three faculty members taught their colleagues “how to foster an anti-racist environment in their classrooms,” brainstorming tactics for dissuading, censoring, and penalizing “problematic” speech.